Matchup Analysis: Houston Texans at New Orleans Saints

Vegas Prediction

Vegas says: Texans 23, Saints 29

FBG Projections

TeamRushYardsTDCompAttPass YdTDINT

Texans Rushing offense

Bad matchup vs. the Saints defense.

With Lamar Miller likely sidelined for 2019 from a preseason knee injury, the Texans will turn to recently acquired running backs Duke Johnson Jr. and Carlos Hyde to lead their backfield this season. Johnson has historically been known as a pass-catching back based on his usage in Cleveland, but he will take on an expanded role in Houston as their lead running back with Carlos Hyde expected to serve more of a backup role. Johnson actually was a prolific rusher in his college days with Miami, so he is capable of running between the tackles despite his lack of usage in that capacity with the Browns. The Texans made a huge move to end the preseason with the trade for a franchise left tackle Laremy Tunsil to bolster their offensive line. Tackle was a glaring weakness ever since the departure of Duane Brown, and while Tunsil is no direct replacement to Brown, he is certainly a massive upgrade for this otherwise lower-tier unit. Matt Kalil was another big offseason addition, and he will shift over to right tackle to make space for Tunsil. In addition to the two veterans added at tackle, the Texans plan to start two rookies at guard to combine with Nick Martin at center--the only player on this line who was with the team in 2018. From a cohesiveness perspective, it may take a few games for the Texans to pull this group together--so expect some struggles for the first few weeks.

The Saints are coming off a great year against the run in 2018 as they were the second-best allowing just 80.2 yards per game and return much of their talent up front. Defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins is coming off a career year in 2018, but he will still be recovering from an early-year Achilles injury likely to keep him sidelined in Week 1. The Saints did add Malcolm Brown from the Patriots to further solidify the interior of this defensive line, which should be helpful in the absence of Rankins. All-Pro Cameron Jordan and 2018 first-round pick Marcus Davenport round out what should be a very effective defensive line when healthy. The recent addition of Kiko Alonso is an improvement at linebacker as Alonso excelled in run defense when with Miami. While the health of Rankins is an issue this week, the Saints still offer a strong front seven for any opposing offense entering into this season. Duke Johnson and the Texans should have a tough time this week as they piece together their new offensive line.

Texans Passing offense

Good matchup vs. the Saints defense.

The Texans passing offense will be led by a similar cast of characters in 2019 as Deshaun Watson remains under center while top receivers DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller, and Keke Coutee all return. New faces in Kenny Stills at wide receiver and Duke Johnson Jr. at running back also join in as weapons for Watson this season. Watson remains a high upside option with his mobility and impressive arm strength, but his prospects of staying healthy look just as grim in 2019 as they did in 2018. Watson was knocked down a league-high 138 times last year, and it was a miracle for him to have started all 16 games considering the injuries he dealt with throughout last season. The Texans added a pair of guards in the draft this offseason, both of whom expect to start in Week 1. While this is encouraging long-term, it will not provide immediate relief as this offensive line still grades out in the bottom tier to start the season. Despite the lack of protection and injury woes for Watson, he still managed to support a WR1 season for DeAndre Hopkins in 2018. With four straight years of 150 or more targets in this offense, it is clear that Hopkins will remain the center of this passing attack. Will Fuller is the clear WR2 behind Hopkins while Keke Coutee is listed as WR3 despite the recent addition of Kenny Stills from Miami. Coutee has been dealing with an ankle injury from preseason though, so look for Stills to be involved off the bench in Week 1. Duke Johnson Jr. cannot be forgotten here either, as he adds another dimension that this offense lacked in the past with Lamar Miller. Johnson is known for his pass-catching prowess and should be expected to put those skills on full display while also contributing between the tackles as the lead running back for the Texans.

The Saints secondary returns all three starting cornerbacks that led them to finish as one of the worst passing defenses in football last season, giving up the fourth-most passing yards per game (268.9) and the league’s most receiving yards (209) and fantasy points (44.2 in PPR scoring) per game to opposing wide receivers. Last season’s addition of Eli Apple helped slightly down the stretch, but this group overall still lacked cohesion and communication to provide sustainable results. Marshon Lattimore has shown how talented of a player he is, and he is certainly a strength of the group. However, their weakness out of the slot from the poor play of P.J. Williams is absolutely glaring. Both Keke Coutee and Kenny Stills have very favorable matchups this week, while DeAndre Hopkins should still be a go-to option despite the shadow coverage to come from Lattimore. Where the Texans may struggle is downfield passing simply because their offensive line is severely outmatched by the strong front seven of the Saints. This Texans offensive line needs more time to build cohesion before they can be relied upon for any level of proficient protection afforded to Deshaun Watson.

Saints Rushing offense

Tough matchup vs. the Texans defense.

Alvin Kamara will remain a cornerstone of this Saints rushing offense after finishing the 2018 season with 883 rushing yards and 14 rushing touchdowns. Kamara showed his versatility in 2018 as he not only contributed through the air but held up through multiple games with heavy rushing workloads while Mark Ingram was sidelined with an injury. Ingram has now departed for Baltimore and been replaced with Latavius Murray to fill the bruiser role. Murray will be the go-to option in short-yardage situations and clear rushing downs as he spells Kamara. Murray missed much of training camp and the preseason with an injury though, so it could take a couple of weeks for him to be fully integrated with his new team. Both of these backs will be running behind one of the best offensive lines in football, ranked right near the top in the league by Matt Bitonti of Footballguys. They return all starting guards and tackles, three of whom were on the Pro Bowl team last season. Pro Bowl center Max Unger retired this offseason, but the Saints spent a first-round pick on center Erik McCoy to fill the void. McCoy has looked spectacular in the preseason as he is catching on very quickly under the tutelage of Dan Roushar, one of the top offensive line coaches in the game.

The Texans run defense was top-notch in 2018, giving up just 82.7 rushing yards per game and eight rushing touchdowns--third-best in the league. Repeating that performance will be much more difficult in 2019 though, as they have now lost their most dominant run-stopping defensive end Jadeveon Clowney via trade to the Seahawks. While Whitney Mercilus is developing into quite the player, he is far from a one-for-one replacement of what Clowney brought to the table. J.J. Watt remains a force to be reckoned with on the other side of this line while D.J. Reader returns as a big body on the interior who has proven his worth against the run over the past four seasons. With strong linebackers also returning, the Texans will remain strong against the run despite the departure of Clowney--they just may not be the top-3 form we saw from the 2018 season. The elite Saints offensive line and running backs will give the Texans all they can handle this week.

Saints Passing offense

Good matchup vs. the Texans defense.

The Saints passing offense had an uneventful offseason as they return all starters with the only notable addition being Jared Cook coming in at tight end from Oakland. Cook is a journeyman veteran eager to prove he has a few more touchdowns in the tank as he comes off a career year with Oakland last season. While Cook has higher competition for targets this season, he still represents a solid red-zone option in what should be a potent offense with plenty of red zone opportunities. Drew Brees remains elite at his position despite the mindset shift of this offense to more of a run-heavy system. Michael Thomas will continue to be his favorite target as he now has a shiny new contract coming off another impressive season. The only knock on Thomas from 2018 was his week-to-week inconsistency, finishing with fewer than 50 receiving yards and no touchdowns in 5 of 16 games and five or fewer receptions in 7 of 16 games. Alvin Kamara should remain the next best target for Brees after finishing with over 100 targets in 2018. Kamara is a dynamic weapon out of the backfield and should continue to prove plenty of value with his pass-catching ability. Beyond Thomas and Kamara, it was tough to find much consistency or volume from other Saints receivers in 2018. While Cook was added at tight end, much of the same can be expected from their other contributors such as Tre’Quan Smith and Ted Ginn Jr.

The Texans secondary has been significantly revamped after their passing defense had been such a problem in recent years, finishing fifth-worst in passing yards allowed (260.4) last season. They will return a couple of solid pieces in second-year safety Justin Reid along with veteran cornerback Johnathan Joseph. They added multiple safeties to go along with Reid though, with veteran Tashaun Gipson having won the starting role. Gipson brings recent experience from the Jaguars secondary and should be an improvement at the position for Houston. The Texans also added Bradley Roby at cornerback, which is actually an improvement despite Roby’s inconsistencies last season for Denver. Michael Thomas should see most snaps against Roby this week, giving Thomas a significant advantage in this matchup based on Roby’s track record. Aaron Colvin is then expected to start again in the slot, which should be a matchup advantage for Ted Ginn Jr. The Texans lost a lot up front with the departure of Jadeveon Clowney, which bumps them immediately from an elite to slightly above average pass-rushing defense still anchored by J.J. Watt. The Saints' strong offensive line should hold up well in this matchup and only further solidify the matchup advantage this passing offense has over the Texans.

Deshaun Watson (FanDuel: $8500, DraftKings: $6800)

1PROJ-Dodds23362621.60.86300.323.523.523.5 (H=55)23.5 (H=69)
1PROJ-Tremblay22352741.60.95260.2232323 (H=53)23 (H=67)
1PROJ-Bloom22352571.70.96330.223.323.323.3 (H=54)23.3 (H=68)

David Johnson (FanDuel: $8100, DraftKings: $7700)

1PROJ-Dodds16660.54.5370.315.119.617.4 (H=34)19.6 (H=44)
1PROJ-Tremblay17670.44.3400.214.318.616.5 (H=31)18.6 (H=41)
1PROJ-Bloom14530.35.0400.312.917.915.4 (H=28)17.9 (H=38)

Duke Johnson (FanDuel: $6100, DraftKings: $5100)

1PROJ-Dodds11430.33.4270.19.412.811.1 (H=21)12.8 (H=32)
1PROJ-Tremblay10410.32.7230.18.811.510.2 (H=18)11.5 (H=26)
1PROJ-Bloom8380.24.0330.29.513.511.5 (H=22)13.5 (H=35)

Karan Higdon (FanDuel: $4500, DraftKings: $3000)

1PROJ-Dodds0000.000000 (H=0)0 (H=0)
1PROJ-Tremblay7270.20.7504.45.14.8 (H=6)5.1 (H=11)

Brandin Cooks (FanDuel: $7000, DraftKings: $6500)

1PROJ-Dodds4.6650.41409.313.911.6 (H=19)13.9 (H=29)
1PROJ-Tremblay4.9710.31409.314.211.8 (H=20)14.2 (H=30)
1PROJ-Bloom4.0530.319081210 (H=15)12 (H=22)

Will Fuller (FanDuel: $6100, DraftKings: $4900)

1PROJ-Dodds3.7520.3000710.78.9 (H=14)10.8 (H=25)
1PROJ-Tremblay2.6370.20004.97.56.3 (H=7)7.6 (H=13)
1PROJ-Bloom4.0590.50008.912.911 (H=20)13 (H=34)

Randall Cobb (FanDuel: $5000, DraftKings: $4200)

1PROJ-Dodds2.7320.20004.47.15.8 (H=8)7.1 (H=14)
1PROJ-Tremblay2.5290.20004.16.65.4 (H=7)6.6 (H=12)
1PROJ-Bloom2.0230.10002.94.93.9 (H=4)4.9 (H=7)

Kenny Stills (FanDuel: $5800, DraftKings: $4000)

1PROJ-Dodds2.0250.20003.75.74.7 (H=5)5.7 (H=10)
1PROJ-Tremblay1.5220.10002.84.33.6 (H=3)4.3 (H=6)
1PROJ-Bloom4.0530.30007.111.19.1 (H=15)11.1 (H=32)

DeAndre Carter (FanDuel: $4500, DraftKings: $3300)

1PROJ-Dodds1.2160.10002.23.42.9 (H=2)3.5 (H=5)
1PROJ-Tremblay1.1140.10102.13.22.8 (H=2)3.3 (H=4)
1PROJ-Bloom1.0100.10001.62.62.2 (H=1)2.7 (H=3)

Keke Coutee (FanDuel: $5900, DraftKings: $4000)

1PROJ-Dodds0.000000000 (H=0)0 (H=0)
1PROJ-Tremblay1.9230.10002.94.83.9 (H=3)4.8 (H=7)
1PROJ-Bloom0.000000000 (H=0)0 (H=0)

Jordan Akins (FanDuel: $4100, DraftKings: $2600)

1PROJ-Dodds1.7180. (H=3)4.1 (H=8)
1PROJ-Tremblay2.6300. (H=9)6.8 (H=21)
1PROJ-Bloom1.01201.22.21.7 (H=1)2.2 (H=3)

Darren Fells (FanDuel: $4000, DraftKings: $2500)

1PROJ-Dodds1.7170.12.343.2 (H=3)4 (H=8)
1PROJ-Tremblay1.2120.11.832.4 (H=2)3 (H=5)
1PROJ-Bloom1.0100. (H=1)2.6 (H=4)

Kahale Warring (FanDuel: $4000, DraftKings: $2600)

1PROJ-Dodds0.000000 (H=0)0 (H=0)
1PROJ-Tremblay0.000000 (H=0)0 (H=0)

Jordan Thomas (FanDuel: $4500, DraftKings: $2800)

1PROJ-Dodds0.000000 (H=0)0 (H=0)
1PROJ-Tremblay0.000000 (H=0)0 (H=0)

Kaimi Fairbairn (FanDuel: $--, DraftKings: $--)


Houston Texans (FanDuel: $3800, DraftKings: $2500)

1PROJ-Dodds29.33702.20.70.500.2555 (H=8)5 (H=12)
1PROJ-Tremblay30.253682.20.80.500. (H=10)5.6 (H=15)

Jameis Winston (FanDuel: $7500, DraftKings: $6600)

1PROJ-Dodds24372831.91.13160.122.822.822.8 (H=59)22.8 (H=68)
1PROJ-Tremblay24393021.81.34220.123.823.823.8 (H=64)23.8 (H=73)
1PROJ-Bloom25382971.81.5260.121.721.721.7 (H=55)21.7 (H=62)

Drew Brees (FanDuel: $8000, DraftKings: $6400)

1PROJ-Dodds253528520.611021.721.721.7 (H=51)21.7 (H=64)
1PROJ-Tremblay23342671.70.8230.220.920.920.9 (H=48)20.9 (H=60)
1PROJ-Bloom21292601.70.511019.419.419.4 (H=42)19.4 (H=53)

Taysom Hill (FanDuel: $6100, DraftKings: $4300)

1PROJ-Dodds11500290. (H=0)1.8 (H=1)
1PROJ-Tremblay003002110. (H=0)1.9 (H=1)
1PROJ-Bloom1190.10280. (H=1)2.3 (H=1)

Alvin Kamara (FanDuel: $8700, DraftKings: $8500)

1PROJ-Dodds12500.55.3480.314.619.917.3 (H=32)19.9 (H=41)
1PROJ-Tremblay13520.75.6490.215.521.118.3 (H=35)21.1 (H=46)
1PROJ-Bloom13550.65.0420.315.120.117.6 (H=33)20.1 (H=42)

Latavius Murray (FanDuel: $5900, DraftKings: $4100)

1PROJ-Dodds11450.51.41108.6109.3 (H=16)10 (H=26)
1PROJ-Tremblay10380.31.51206.88.37.6 (H=11)8.3 (H=19)
1PROJ-Bloom11450.51.0808.39.38.8 (H=14)9.3 (H=23)

Ty Montgomery (FanDuel: $4900, DraftKings: $3200)

1PROJ-Dodds7280.22.7190. (H=14)9.2 (H=29)
1PROJ-Tremblay6230.21.51104.66.15.4 (H=7)6.1 (H=14)
1PROJ-Bloom4130.12.0150.1465 (H=6)6 (H=13)

Dwayne Washington (FanDuel: $4500, DraftKings: $3200)

1PROJ-Dodds1500.4300.81.21 (H=0)1.2 (H=0)
1PROJ-Tremblay1300.0000.30.30.3 (H=0)0.3 (H=0)
1PROJ-Bloom0000.000000 (H=0)0 (H=0)

Michael Thomas (FanDuel: $8500, DraftKings: $8000)

1PROJ-Dodds7.1860.600012.219.315.8 (H=28)19.3 (H=42)
1PROJ-Tremblay6.6820.600011.818.415.1 (H=25)18.4 (H=38)
1PROJ-Bloom7.0830.500011.318.314.8 (H=25)18.3 (H=38)

Emmanuel Sanders (FanDuel: $5600, DraftKings: $5300)

1PROJ-Dodds4.2510.30006.911.19 (H=16)11.1 (H=24)
1PROJ-Tremblay3.4430.20205.79.17.4 (H=11)9.1 (H=17)
1PROJ-Bloom5.0610.40008.513.511 (H=22)13.5 (H=34)

TreQuan Smith (FanDuel: $5200, DraftKings: $3900)

1PROJ-Dodds2.2330.30005.17.36.2 (H=9)7.3 (H=16)
1PROJ-Tremblay2.2330.20004.56.75.6 (H=7)6.7 (H=13)
1PROJ-Bloom1.0140.1000232.5 (H=1)3 (H=3)

Maurice Harris (FanDuel: $--, DraftKings: $--)


Jared Cook (FanDuel: $6000, DraftKings: $4500)

1PROJ-Dodds3.9470.47.1119.1 (H=15)11 (H=28)
1PROJ-Tremblay3.0390. (H=10)8.7 (H=18)
1PROJ-Bloom4.0520.47.611.69.6 (H=16)11.6 (H=31)

Josh Hill (FanDuel: $4000, DraftKings: $2700)

1PROJ-Dodds0.990.11.52.42 (H=1)2.4 (H=3)
1PROJ-Tremblay0.890. (H=1)2.3 (H=3)
1PROJ-Bloom1.0120. (H=2)2.8 (H=4)

Wil Lutz (FanDuel: $--, DraftKings: $--)


New Orleans Saints (FanDuel: $4100, DraftKings: $3200)

1PROJ-Dodds233672.50.90.600. (H=17)7.8 (H=21)
1PROJ-Tremblay23.253822.20.90.600. (H=18)8.1 (H=23)